Breaking into Advertising

10 tips to help photographers break into advertising

Let me guess: You want to shoot advertising, but you don’t know how to get into that market.

It all starts with a strong foundation. Here are some suggestions and points you might want to consider when beginning to market yourself in the advertising world.

1. Establish a strong visual and emotional brand


2. Define your market

Yes, it’s advertising, but what are the specialties that your work supports? Pharmaceuticals? Finance? Fashion? Lifestyle? There are many.


3. Have a well-edited visual body of work – a cohesive vision to give the buyer confidence in you

What is unique to you and your vision? Is it that your work has a strong humorous undertone? Is it that you shoot wonderful environmental portraits or strong conceptual imagery?


4. Write Your Elevator Speech

Once you know what your assets are, you can write your elevator speech. Please refer the free webinar “Things You Never Learned in School” to learn more about writing an effective elevator speech.


5. Create a strong website with well-edited categories

Make sure the hierarchy is established according to the market or markets you’re going after. Easy navigation and large images are important.


6. Develop a marketing plan

Develop a plan that allows the buyer to see your work in multiple formats – including social media, emails, direct mail and electronic PDFs.


7. Bring your best personality!

You must be a strong listener, a positive relationship builder and a hard worker. Use social media, including blogs, to give your communications a personal touch.


8. Go above and beyond

For instance, showcase your willingness to do public service announcements or nonprofit projects. This will help you establish relationships with the creative team and allow them to see your creative process through your collaboration.


9. Do custom pitches

Research your dream clients. Make sure there is a parallel to what you do and these clients’ creative directions. If you have an idea you think the agency/client would support, go shoot it, or create a storyboard that showcases your visual thoughts. Remember important factors like color palette, mood, concept, location, wardrobe, etc. (There are apps for your iPad that help you create your own story board – Storyboard Composer HD,, Storyboard Quick Direct HD and Storyboard for iPad by True Hero Studio, to name a few.)

Speaking of doing your research, Ads of the World is a great place to view current campaigns. Refer to the above picture.

10. Shoot editorial

It has been said that magazines are more receptive than advertising agencies to young photographers. Although they pay low rates, they offer you the chance to have work published and credited. The outcome is you get noticed, enhance your portfolio and get on track for better-paying work.

But most of all: Remember that passion and perseverance equal success! Stay true to what you love and keep shooting new pictures. If you have strong imagery and market yourself the right way, the work will follow.

Good luck and definitely drop me a line in the comments section below if you have questions!

Jennifer Kilberg

Jennifer Kilberg’s unique insight into the photo industry is a result of her extensive experience and understanding of all aspects of photography since joining the industry in 1996. In 2004, Jennifer started FluidVision Inc. and has worked with a diverse international client base of photographers and illustrators of all styles and specialties. As a strong communicator, Jennifer enjoys working with all types of personalities, and her loyal client base is a testament to her ability to build long-term relationships. Jennifer has worked with Agency Access clients since 2009 in both Campaign Manager programs and other types of consultations.

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Join the conversation

  • Eyiope - 2 years ago

    Thanks you guys..

  • Katie Warnke - 1 year ago

    Direct and to the point. I’ve been wondering about shooting for ad agencies and this provides a good outline. Thank you